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Best Week, Worst Week: Good news for paid sick leave supporters; Morheim reprimanded despite pleas of innocence

bestworst-030417Employees of small businesses in Maryland got some good news this week on the paid sick leave front while a Maryland delegate faced a reprimand from his legislative colleagues despite his repeated assertions that he did nothing wrong.

Government affairs writer Bryan P. Sears reported Wednesday that House of Delegates gave preliminary approval to a bill that would require most small businesses to provide paid sick leave to its employees

The bill was moved along after Republicans attempted to amend the proposal. Some of the Republican-proposed changes would have made House Bill 1 similar to an unsuccessful paid sick leave proposal offered by Gov. Larry Hogan.

Supporters of the bill say it is about covering employees, plain and simple, and would cover more workers in Maryland than Hogan’s plan, something in the area of 800,000 versus 381,000.

Republicans say, however, the law would hurt small businesses and that they don’t want to have to vote on a bill that will help one side in the debate to the detriment to the other.

A poll released Monday found that 80 percent of those surveyed supported a paid sick leave plan that applied to businesses of 15 or more employees. But, that same survey also found that 84 percent supported Hogan’s proposal of mandating paid sick leave for businesses with 50 or more employees.

Meanwhile, Del. Dan Morhaim received a reprimand from his colleagues in the House of Delegates on Friday for what a Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics Report concluded was poor judgment in working as a consultant for a company applying for a medical marijuana license and testifying before the state Medical Cannabis Commission as an expert legislator on marijuana issues.

Morhaim, a 23-year veteran of the legislature and a physician, has been a leading proponent of medical marijuana for more than a decade.

The delegate apologized for damaging the reputation of the legislature but maintained he did nothing wrong.

The 22-page report from the ethics panel concluded that poor judgment was used on Morhaim’s part but that no laws were broken. Morhaim says the review of his actions stemmed from an erroneous report by the Washington Post in September 2016 that was picked up by other media outlet and later was the subject of a correction.

There were no complaints brought to the ethics committee. Morhaim voluntarily reported the facts in a letter to the committee last summer and publicly announced he would refrain from legislative involvement in any medical cannabis issues. But by then, the damage had been done.